Mary Lillian Morici, who with her husband operated the Stop 27 Motel in Montauk starting in the early 1950s, died at home in that hamlet under hospice care on June 13. She was 98. Her health had been declining for the past two years, her family said.
Born in what was then the farm country of North Merrick to William and Sadie Lyons Bright on April 20, 1914, she grew up on a farm and went to school in North Merrick.
When she was in her early 20s, she got a job in the local five-and-dime store. After a couple of years, she went to work at the Doubleday publishing company in Garden City. It was at that time that she met her future husband, Charles B. Morici. The couple were married in 1935 and settled in North Merrick, raising two children, Charles Morici and Mary Pawelski.
Mrs. Morici was a homemaker then. “She liked to sew, she liked to crochet,” Ms. Pawelski said.
The Morici family began visiting Montauk in the 1940s. They had been looking for another place to live because the Merrick area had become too developed for their liking. Montauk seemed the perfect place for them, her son said. They became full-time residents in 1951.
That same year, Mr. Morici bought land behind the post office and built the Stop 27 Motel, now the Neptune, opening it in 1952.
“It was a mom-and-pop operation,” Ms. Pawelski said. There was rarely a moment in the day when she wasn’t busy, her daughter said, but at night, if she had a spare minute, she would crochet.
She also enjoyed dancing. “She loved to do the Charleston,” Ms. Pawelski said. “When she was young, she used to win dance contests. We used to say, ‘Mom, get up and show us the Charleston,’ and she would happily oblige.”
“She liked to go anywhere there was a concert. She liked everything — rock ’n’ roll, country music,” Ms. Pawelski said.
As they grew older, the Moricis began spending their winters in Palm Bay, Fla. Her husband died in 1999. In 2001, Mrs. Morici moved back to Montauk full time to be in the care of her two children.
In 2007, she fell down and broke her hip. She continued to move around with a walker, but the past couple of years became more difficult for her.
“She was a fighter,” Ms. Pawelski said.
Besides her two children, both of whom live in Montauk, she is survived by a sister, Mary Lowerre of Speonk, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. Four brothers predeceased her.
A memorial service will be held at a later date. Donations in Mrs. Morici’s name can be made to the Montauk Ambulance Company, 12 Flamingo Avenue, Montauk 11954.